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Helping kids be comfortable wearing masks

A face mask is a simple thing, yet it’s one of the best tools we have to help protect one another from COVID-19.

That’s why public health experts say almost everyone should wear a mask-including children as young as two years old who live in certain communities.

“Many areas have mask mandates in addition to recommendations,” “https://www.aspirus.org/find-a-provider/james-black-md-faap-31″>said James Black, MD, FAAP, pediatrician for Aspirus. “Children may need to wear a mask at least part of the time while they’re at school.”

Wearing a face mask can be challenging for children. Black suggests these tips to help them adjust:

— Make it fun. Put a face mask on a stuffed animal. Give your child’s mask a cool decoration. Point out that many superheroes wear masks.

— Practice together. Help your child get used to wearing the mask before you go out.

— Show your child pictures of other kids wearing masks. This will help your child avoid feeling different or singled out.

— Talk about the importance of masks. Using age-appropriate words, talk with your child about face masks and why your family wears them: to avoid spreading germs. Teach your child not to share or trade masks.

Right mask, right fit

You can buy a face covering for your child. Or if you sew, you can find DIY mask patterns online. A pleated cloth mask with elastic ear loops usually works best for kids.

“Making sure the masks you buy or make fits your child’s smaller face and can be securely worn over your child’s nose and mouth is very important,” Black said. “Adult face masks are too large for kids.”

Also, children often need to be reminded to:

— Wash their hands before and after wearing the mask.

— Avoid touching the mask while wearing it.

— Remove the mask by taking it off from behind rather than from the front.

When to talk to your child’s doctor

Some children have a developmental or intellectual disability or a health condition that may make it harder to wear a mask. Ask your child’s doctor for advice.

If you think you’ve been exposed or are experiencing a fever, cough or shortness of breath, call the COVID-19 Call Center at 1-844-568-0701.

For more health information, tune in to Dr. Black’s podcast about the importance of vaccinations during COVID-19.

For more information about Aspirus, visit aspirus.org.

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